The North Plains Elephant Garlic Festival will celebrate its 20th year from Aug. 11 to 13 at the Jessie Mays Community Park, 30975 N.W. Hillcrest St.
For years, thousands of people have gathered at the park to experience two evenings and three days of music, food, entertainment, and fun. But it wasn't always this way.
The festival originally started out back in 1994 as a community event called North Plains Days. It featured a parade, bed races and other activities like live music. Gradually vendors were added to sell food and crafts and the event was expanded to three days.
As the event grew in popularity, Bob Ganos, a local farmer, suggested that the festival adopt the elephant garlic theme, and in 1997 the North Plains Elephant Garlic Festival was born.
The purpose of the festival is to provide an outstanding free local event for the surrounding community, with art and great music. The festival has grown even larger in recent years, attracting between 20,000 to 25,000 people over the course of the weekend, according to Patti Burns, who has coordinated the festival since 2003. North Plains' population is around 2,000 people, so the event is quite the affair for the small town.
Friday will feature a variety of food vendors along with a beer and wine garden. Craft vendors will be on-site to facilitate activities for those who like to get artsy. From noon to 6 p.m. there will be a Friends of the North Plains Library Book sale inside Jessie Mays Community Center. All of Friday's features will continue throughout the weekend.
A pancake breakfast at the senior center and a 10k run / 5k walk will kick things off Saturday morning. There will also be a garlic-themed parade rolling through town featuring the Garlic King and Queen handing out garlic, as well as floats, including one of a huge elephant, which represents the mascot of the festival, Stinkee — who is part elephant and part garlic.
Jasper & Company, a motorcycle shop in North Plains, will put on a motorcycle show later Saturday afternoon showcasing bikes of all kinds. This event debuted at last year's festival. The show will include awards in categories like Best American, Best Custom, Best Vintage bike, and more. That's not the only competition happening, as there will also be a poker run event in the works as well.
Every festival needs some music, and the extravaganza will feature an eclectic mix to entertain the masses. Mitch and Jolie, Dan Abrahamson, Folsom, Strawberry Roan, Buddy Evans, Joyride, Melissa Mickelson, 23 Window and Norman Sylvester are just some of the artists that will be sending their tunes through the air as the weekend unfolds. The music will span the genres of rock, country, dance, gospel, blues, jazz, Americana and dance.
For more information and the full schedule of the 2017 Elephant Garlic Festival, visit www.funstinks.com.